If you’re familiar with our frustration over UM’s impact on the ballpark situation, you can imagine our dismay as we read the latest updates.
[T]he University of Miami’s indecision over whether to stay in the Orange Bowl is stalling arrangements to move the Marlins into a Miami home, says Ian Yorty, who handles baseball negotiations for Miami-Dade County
And of course, the County wants the Marlins to play at the OB site:
Major League Baseball is “willing,” Mr. Hernandez said, to bring the Marlins to the Orange Bowl should the university choose to leave … Orange Bowl still fits the Marlins’ desired bill of “an urban ballpark setting.”
The OB site is a very different site. It’s a residential area where you can’t really walk to stores, restaurants, or any other urban attractions. The best urban ballparks in baseball are built in the middle of a real urban-city areas located next to downtown skyscrapers, large shopping districts, and tourist attractions. It’s important for the ballpark to feel integrated into its immediate neighbors. In the OB’s case, it’ll be surrounded by parking lots and small residential homes.
The good news is that UM is close to deciding, so maybe we’ll see some movement soon. I wonder what happens to the $206 million the county wants to use to renovate the OB if Shalala decides to move.
One final rant. UM is not going to leave the county. They are deciding between a private facility in the county and a public facility in the county. All in all the county will do well regardless. They have 6 home dates a year, half of which are as interesting as a late July Wednesday game between the Marlins and the Nationals. UM has a large endowment and is a tax-exempt institution. The big-money Orange Bowl game has nothing to do with UM and will remain at Dolphin Stadium.
The Marlins are also a private organization but they are not tax-exempt, they do not have an endowment and alumni base who contribute money on a regular basis, and frankly they could move not only out of the county but out of the state. They bring in 81 home dates a year which even in the worse of years sells more tickets than UM. They’ve twice brought us playoffs including 67K fans a game in two World Series. They will bring an All-Star game and possibly other events such as the World Baseball Classic.
Again, why does UM take complete priority over the Marlins?
“My nose is crushed [against the glass] because we’re so up against it,” Marlins president David Samson said Thursday after the quarterly owners meeting. “Every day that passes makes it more and more difficult. The longer this goes on diminishes the possibility of making the timing work.”